by ilene - March 5th, 2011 2:46 pm
Watch the video below too. In this case, felony murder rules would not likely apply because there was no intent. It sounds more like "Project Gunwalker" was a disasterous plan from the beginning that worked out, not surprisingly, disasterously. – Ilene
Courtesy of Karl Denninger, The Market Ticker
I’ve been following the Project Gunwalker story for a while.
For those who are not familiar with it, the story line is this: The BATFE, that’s right – the Federal Government - has been intentionally allowing "straw sales" of rifles and pistols to go through and then letting those guns be transported to Mexico.
These are sales where the person doing the buying isn’t the actual intended owner of the weapon. These guns are often bought in bulk, many at a time. It’s not illegal to buy a lot of guns, even all at once, but it is a felony to buy them for someone else.
Anyway, BATFE was allegedly allowing this to go on and approving sales they knew were bogus. Starting in 2009 several gun stores started getting suspicious – they were having people come in and paying with cash – sometimes with cash in paper bags – for multiple guns at once. Specifically, it is alleged that over five hundred AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and over 2,500 weapons in total, including rifles and pistols, were purchased in this manner.
The claim is made that the BATFE literally watched the sales happen, each checked through NICS’ "background check", each approved, despite being alerted by the gun store owners that the sales were suspicious.
The stores were told to proceed with the sales intentionally.
Let me repeat this: The allegation is that the BATFE intentionally allowed these weapons to be purchased despite knowing they were fraudulent straw purchases and then allowed them to be unlawfully transported into Mexico where they were delivered to various Mexican outlaws – including drug gangs.
Remember, we’ve been told that a lot of guns that Mexican drug lords are using are coming from the US? Well, no kidding, they are, if this allegation is correct: Our own government was knowingly allowing them to be purchased and illegally transported across the border.
Then, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The serial numbers on the two assault rifles found at the scene matched two rifles ATF watched Jaime Avila buy in Phoenix nearly a year before. Officials won’t answer whether the bullet that killed
by ilene - February 24th, 2011 11:29 pm
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
Video – Max Keiser & Stacy Herbert
At issue is Tim Geithner’s criminal behavior in orchestrating the AIG bailout to favor Goldman Sachs through counterparty payouts at par, and then the massive cover-up.
- How Goldman Sachs Created ‘Shitty’ CDOs, Sold Them To AIG, Forced AIG Into Bankruptcy, Got A $20 Billion Bailout, Paid Themselves Billions In Bonuses, And Watched As Tim Geithner Covered It All Up
- Who Is Dan Jester And Why Did Tim Geithner Call Him 103 Times During The Financial Meltdown Of 2008?
- How Paulson Appointees & Former GS Employees Dan Jester & Ed Liddy Colluded To Destroy AIG And Secure A Secret Bailout For Goldman Sachs
by ilene - September 19th, 2010 1:36 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Here is an email from Robert who is wondering about the Fed’s ability to inflate, and the consequences if they try. Robert writes …
Something is bothering me.
I thought there would be inflation after the US government and FED’s actions, but there has been no inflation. I was wrong and you were right. I understand why and I also agree with the concepts of "peak credit" and "peak consumption," as far as the West goes at least.
But this seems to mean that the government can sell vast quantities (1 -2 trillion per year) of debt directly to the FED and to other parties with few observable short or intermediate term consequences.
If everyone agrees that the economies of the West will be weak for many years (for a host of reasons) and everyone also agrees that the dollar will be the reserve currency for years to come then:
1) What is the problem with running 1.5 trillion dollar deficits per year as far out as the eye can see? ( I am not being facetious.)
2) What is the problem with using federal-government borrowed money to bail out state and local governments to keep them from near implosion and the likely associated social problems?
If I am missing something, what is it?
Fed’s Primary Mission Failed
First off, congratulations for understanding the Fed’s attempt at producing inflation has failed. Many do not see it that way, but it depends on the definition of inflation, and an understanding of what the Fed is really attempting to do.
The Fed’s primary goal is not to get prices to rise (regardless of what they say), but rather to get banks lending, consumers spending, and businesses hiring. The Fed and Congress have failed on all three scores.
One Sided Policies
The Fed did not produce inflation, but there is a huge price to pay to pay for the Fed’s One sided policies.
- The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
- When the rich make a mistake they get bailed out.
- When the poor make a mistake they get tossed to the dogs.
by ilene - September 18th, 2010 4:28 am
Jr. Deputy Accountant makes an interesting observation: "The federal government, through Fannie and Freddie, is on the hook for property taxes on foreclosed homes? Isn’t that basically a municipality bailout the roundabout way using federal funds sunk into crap properties that probably should never have been built in the first place?"
This can be looked at two unsatisfactory ways. One, the federal government is largely responsible for the housing bubble, so why shouldn’t it be bailing out municipalities? On the other hand, it is really taxpayers who get stuck paying, and many taxpayers were not responsible for either the government’s failures or the mistakes and unethical behavior of the local homebuyers who bought houses they couldn’t afford, and the real estate industry which aided and abetted the bad decisions with lies and deceptive practices. – Ilene
WSJ had an interesting piece today about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac quickly becoming the country’s two largest home sellers, which shouldn’t be too surprising since there are FHA bailouts to handle and obviously way too much inventory just lying around unused. But that wasn’t the interesting part, this is:
Once they take homes back, Fannie and Freddie must not only cover the utility bills and property taxes, but they are also relying on thousands of real-estate agents and contractors to rehabilitate homes, mow lawns and clean pools. Fannie took a $13 billion charge during the second quarter just on carrying costs for its properties.
Wait a second… The federal government, through Fannie and Freddie, is on the hook for property taxes on foreclosed homes? Isn’t that basically a municipality bailout the roundabout way using federal funds sunk into crap properties that probably should never have been built in the first place? And why the f*ck are they paying utility bills on bankrupt and vacant properties? Let the new owners hook that shit up, idiots.
In gangster-ridden Chicago, Fannie might try a different method to get foreclosed homes to at least bring in some kind of cash by renting. Call me crazy but doesn’t that mean the government is still on the hook for property taxes? Maybe Fannie is a different sort of landlord than the one I rent from but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a renter having to cover property tax (at…
by ilene - July 27th, 2010 11:42 am
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Marc Faber closed out this week’s Agora Financial Symposium with a speech that pretty much recapitulated the view that the end of the world is if not nigh, then surely tremendous dislocations to the existing socio-political and economic landscape are about to take place (with some very dire consequences for the US). His conclusive remarks pretty much summarize his sentiment best: "We’ve had a trend for most of the past 200 years: GDP of countries like China and India went down while the West surged. That’s now changed. Emerging economies will go up, and your children in the West will have a lower standard of living than you did. Absolutely. We won’t sink to the bottom of the sea. But other countries will grow much faster than us. The world is very competitive, and the odds are stacked against us. Americans, with their inborn arrogance, will not let it go that easily, so there will be lots of tension going forward." While long-time fans of Faber will not be surprised by the gloom and doom (not much boom) here, anyone else who still holds a glimmer of hope that at the end of the day the CNBC spin may be right, is advised to steer clear of Faber’s most recent thoughts.
And while we do not have the full presentation yet, the salient points have been recreated below courtesy of the Motley Fool. For those who desire a far more in depth presentation from the inimitable Mr. Faber, we direct you to his June 2008 capstone presentation: "Where is the boom, and the doom" – link here.
On reality: My views are not all that negative. I think they’re just realistic. I want to face reality. You have people like Paul Krugman who thinks we should have another bubble to pull us out of this. He actually said that. But he said the same thing in 2001. And you know how that turned out.
On unintended consequences: The Fed doesn’t seem to have learned anything at all from its mistakes. Their current policy of cutting rates to zero is designed to create sustainable growth, but they’ve created larger and larger volatility in markets. There are many unintended consequences of their actions.
by ilene - July 3rd, 2010 3:20 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Agencies will be encouraged to use "blanket purchase agreements," getting savings for taxpayers by banding together to buy things in bulk, purchasing officials said at a hearing of the Senate’s subcommittee on contracting oversight.
Under new acquisition guidelines, government purchasing officials have established 12 new acquisition procedures that will apply to every agency. They could save about $200 million in the next four years, according to officials at the Office of Management and Budget.
The federal government spends more than $500 billion a year buying goods and services. With that kind of purchasing power, said Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), the subcommittee’s ranking Republican, "you expect to get a break and get the best bang for your dollar. The federal government should be receiving the best prices in the marketplace, but unfortunately that’s rarely the case," he said.
Daniel Gordon, head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the handling of interagency contracts has improved, but he agreed with some of the criticism leveled by lawmakers. "We have much more work to do in terms of leveraging the government’s buying power," he said.
A study released in April by the Government Accountability Office found little oversight and accountability on about $60 billion worth of interagency contracts that many agencies use.
The auditors raised concerns about duplication, noting that "many of the same vendors provided similar products and services on multiple contracts." They said that the problem led to cost increases for "both the vendor and the government" and resulted in "missed opportunities to leverage the government’s buying power."
Can it really matter if the drones at HUD have the same desks and file cabinets as their counterparts at Interior or Defense? And everybody loves a good deal on Post-It Notes.
by ilene - June 11th, 2010 1:17 pm
Career criminal, master charmer Sam E. writes about his speaking engagement in Portland, where we met and I gathered material for part II of the No Redemption. The most fascinating aspect of Sam’s story is what his admissions teach us about human nature. But on a more practical level, understanding fraud and the techniques used to commit white collar crimes can give investors insight into the integrity of the companies they invest in. Companies built on fraud tend to implode under the weight of their own lies, eventually – can we find these companies early, before their business comes crashing down? (Stay tuned for part III) – Ilene
|Artwork by Marta Dahlig|
Last Friday, I was the key note speaker at the Oregon Health Care Fraud Working Group Training Seminar, sponsored by the United State Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. I explained to the group that while emphasis on effective oversight and internal controls are important factors in preventing or deterring white-collar crime, not enough emphasis is given to the underlying psychology used by white-collar criminals to prey on their victims and effectively commit their crimes.
I have said many times that, "White-collar criminals consider your humanity as a weakness to be exploited in the execution of their crimes" and as the cold-blooded and ruthless criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I learned that you can steal far more with a smile than you can with a gun.
White-collar criminals use a combination of charm and deceit to achieve their objectives. The more likable and charming that I was as a criminal, the easier it was for me to successfully lie to my victims…
by ilene - May 28th, 2010 12:00 pm
It’s not often that I highlight material from the same blog more than once over the course of a few days or weeks. But then again, there are not too many commentators who are as thoughtful and insightful as Charles Hugh Smith, author of Survival+ and publisher of Of Two Minds blog, a long-time favorite of mine. Last time around, he gave us a no-holds barred assessment of the so-called recovery. In "The Root of the Housing Bubble Remains Unchanged," he suggests, among other things, that for many people, there’s little to gain — and lots to lose — from pursuing the traditional American dream.
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith
Banks and Wall Street profited immensely from millions of unqualified home buyers reaching out for the simulacrum of middle class "ownership."
The fundamental root of the housing bubble--the collusion of the Central State and banks to extend home ownership to millions of citizens who did not qualify for that burden-- remains firmly in place.
The Federal government continues to pour tens of billions of dollars into this "home ownership should be for everyone" project via subsidies to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA. Mortgage lenders have been delighted to write mortgages in our completely nationalized market in which the government backs literally 99% of all mortgages and the Federal Reserve bought $1.2 trillion in mortgages that no sane private investor would touch.
Fannie Mae seeks $8.4 billion from government after loss: Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. residential mortgage funds provider, on Monday asked the government for an additional $8.4 billion after the company lost $13.1 billion in the first quarter.
Because of current trends in housing and financial markets, Fannie Mae expects to continue having a net worth deficit in future periods and to need to tap more funding from the Treasury.
"Promoting sustainable homeownership and maintaining ready access to liquidity are our guiding principles in serving the residential markets," said Michael Williams, the firm’s chief executive.
The government has relied heavily on both companies, which buy mortgages from lenders to stimulate more lending, to stabilize the housing market.
by ilene - April 5th, 2010 1:58 pm
More twilight zone material: progress from the Pinto case stalled at the mercy of the "Too Big To Fail" doctrine. Undoubtedly backed by the misguided "rational human economic model." In the Pinto case, punitive damages were awarded to prevent future corporate decisions to measure cost/benefits by putting a price tag on tag on human life…. Ilene
Before the Ford experts left Washington to return to drafting tables in Dearborn they did one other thing. They managed to informally reach an agreement with the major public servants who would be making auto safety decisions. This agreement was that "cost-benefit" would be an acceptable mode of analysis by Detroit and its new regulators. And, as we shall see, cost-benefit analysis quickly became the basis of Ford’s argument against safer car design.
Cost-benefit analysis was used only occasionally in government until President Kennedy appointed Ford Motor Company president Robert McNamara to be Secretary of Defense. McNamara, originally an accountant, preached cost-benefit with all the force of a Biblical zealot. Stated in its simplest terms, cost-benefit analysis says that if the cost is greater than the benefit, the project is not worth it—no matter what the benefit. Examine the cost of every action, decision, contract part or change, the doctrine says, then carefully evaluate the benefits (in dollars) to be certain that they exceed the cost before you begin a program or—and this is the crucial part for our story—pass a regulation.
As a management tool in a business in which profits matter over everything else, cost-benefit analysis makes a certain amount of sense. Serious problems come, however, when public officials who ought to have more than corporate profits at heart apply cost-benefit analysis to every conceivable decision. The inevitable result is that they must place a dollar value on human life.
Courtesy of Mish
by ilene - March 6th, 2010 1:18 pm
Commodities are a TAX. They are the worst kind of tax because they flatly (not progressively) charge every man woman and child in this country more money for the same food, fuel, shelter and clothing that they had to have last week in order to live. It doesn’t matter if those people are trying to save or trying to tighten their belts or trying to get out of debt – high commodity prices are a shake-down that rips money out of the pockets of the middle class and funnels it to the very, very small class of commodity producers, commodity speculators and the people who finance them and collect the fees.
Over 99% of the people in this country do not own mines or oil wells (and I’m not counting small farmers because they are literally raped by speculators and bankers, often leaving them worse-off than the consumers) or huge plantations and they do not buy futures contracts on margin with cash they borrow at prime plus 0.5% nor do they own tankers filled with 2M barrels of crude that they arbitrage along the crack spread, looking for an opportune moment to deliver their goods (hopefully during a crisis) at a maximum profit.
So 99% of the people in this country don’t even own a commodity ETF – they have no way to profit from high commodity prices and they need to eat, and they need to buy clothing and have shelter and they need fuel to heat or cool their homes and go from place to place. There is a word for people like that, at the bottom end of a transaction they have no control over – VICTIMS!
The American people are the victims of a $2.5Tn commodity scam - 50 times bigger than the Madoff scandal, pretty much one Madoff PER WEEK yet they sit there and take it because those same commodity pushers are major advertisers in the media – so there are no stories about it and the commodity pushers are massive campaign contributors with armies of lobbyists so our Government does nothing about it other than show up to parties and go on junkets. In fact, do you know who the single largest hoarder of oil was in the last decade? It was the US Government as George the Second purchased 240